Central council denies couple’s trailer request for Carter Bay

MINDEMOYA—By a majority vote, Central Manitoulin council has turned down a request from a seasonal couple of Carter Bay to grandfather in a structure on their property and allow it to remain for their use. As had been reported last fall, the municipality had passed a motion to inform those property owners who are not in compliance with the municipal bylaw on development on the steps they must take to be in compliance (essentially removing any offending structure). 

At last week’s meeting Mayor Richard Stephens asked deputy mayor Dale Scott to take over the chair position when a motion on this issue came up which stated “that we recommend to council to accept the letter from Albert and Claudette Wingell regarding their property in Carter Bay and to inform them that the municipality will not be grandfathering in any existing structures.”

“The reason I asked Dale to take on the position of chair is that I read the letter from the Wingell’s a couple of times and I became quite concerned,” said Mayor Stephens. “Rules are rules and they are there to protect people. But here we have a letter from a couple who are years-old who have been coming up to Manitoulin Island for the past 16 years. They would like to continue to have that privilege and have the ability to use and enjoy their property.”

“It is indicated in the motion (a motion recommended by the finance and economic development committee) that we will not be grandfathering in any existing structures,” said Mayor Stephens. “I don’t know if there is an amendment to the bylaw that we could make or that they could apply to.”

Council was told that the municipal bylaw for Carter Bay basically says no development and that all structures, such as a trailer, have to be removed.

“Do we have any wiggle room to make a slight change?” asked Mayor Stephens, to which Clerk Ruth Frawley pointed out has not been done in the past. 

Mayor Stephens stated, “I will be voting against the motion. We have a due process in place where we can make amendments and in this case it would assist an elderly couple to the enjoyment of their property.”
“I totally agree,” said Councillor Derek Stephens. “We had turned a blind eye to people having trailers (at Carter Bay) until a few residents put forward complaints against neighbours having buildings and structures. It’s unfortunate for people who just want to enjoy their property. If it was a case of an odd trailer being used it might be okay, but when building structures are created when they aren’t permitted this type of situation comes up, unfortunately. If we allow this couple to have their trailer there, everyone down there will want the same. The municipality is stuck with it until the new Official Plan comes into place.”

“I feel sorry for the owners of all the properties in Carter Bay,” said Councillor Ted Taylor. “The province is sticking to its guns, and if we allowed the request in this case we would be opening up the floodgates to more taking place. I don’t think we can do this. But I do feel sorry for people who have purchased property in Carter Bay who pay taxes but can’t do a thing with their property. It’s too bad something can’t be done to open the subdivision and allow for development; and it would provide more taxes for the municipality. Too bad something can’t be done.”

Councillor Linda Farquhar suggested that, as was the case in a previous situation, council could ask the Wingells if they would like to sell their property to the municipality.

“We could, but they haven’t said they want to sell their property,” said Ms. Frawley.

“But if we turn them down on their request they might want to sell,” said Councillor Farquhar.

Councillor Pat MacDonald said if the council does turn down the Wingell’s request then maybe they should let the couple know that selling the property is a possibility. 

Councillor Stephens said that the couple “can still put up a tent to enjoy their property, but they can’t have a structure. This is an unfortunate situation and it shouldn’t be this way  but they can still enjoy their property without putting up a structure.”

Mayor Stephens asked for a recorded vote on the motion. 

“We are talking about an elderly couple here who have been coming here to their property since about 2000. They mention they had received permission when they first visited here, and others had put trailers on their property and it was out of site-out of mind, until the past year when we received complaints from several residents (in Carter Bay),” said Councillor Dale Scott. He said if this request is granted it would open up a can of worms for others wanting to do the same. “I feel sympathetic to this elderly couple.”

“I don’t think we can grandfather the trailer on their property in this case,” said Councillor Taylor, “but I wish there was something we could do to help.” 

In the vote on the motion Mayor Stephens voted in opposition, while councillors Ted Taylor, Pat MacDonald, Derek Stephens and Dale Scott were in favour. Councillor Linda Farquhar abstained from voting.